1. SOLAR ENERGY LEASE MODEL
A 100-kWp system allows you to save nearly AED 5000 of your monthly electricity bill. Extend this value to 25 years which is the life-time of a typical solar panel, then this value translates to AED 1,500,000 million.
There are many reasons to go solar, but the primary motivation for most is savings. Installing solar panels on your roof reduces your dependence on the utility grid. As a result, you receive lower monthly bills and much higher savings.
“Companies are realizing the social and economic benefits of adopting solar power. Not only can going solar improve a company’s bottom line, but it can also help to attract new clients who value sustainability”
Easy financing options such as solar leasing has made it possible for users to go solar for little or no money. The solar leasing model is a “no-brainer” where a third-party company, generally a solar service provider, owns the solar system and takes care of installation, maintenance, monitoring and repairs.
“You simply pay the solar provider for electricity – less than you would`ve paid the utility company. Thus, you start saving from day 1”
Payment in cash, however, generates more long-term savings. Therefore, if you have the capability for a cash purchase, it is highly recommended, especially if you are a home owner, you can pay in cash through home equity or mortgage options.
Furthermore, all solar systems eventually pay for themselves. The payback period may vary depending on the weather, size of your system and mode of financing. Fortunately, Dubai is blessed with 365 days of sunlight and DEWA is very supportive towards Dubai’s solar energy strategy. Therefore, the average breakeven point for solar in Dubai is 7 years which is great compared to the global average of 7 to 15 years.
“After your PV installation has paid for itself, all additional solar electricity is 100% free – for the remaining lifetime of your PV system. And that can be a long time”
The transition to solar energy is supported by DEWA. Under the Shams Dubai “Net Metering” program, users send surplus solar electricity into the grid in exchange for utility credits and at the end of the month only the net amount is billed to the customer. The benefit of net metering is that customers stay connected to DEWA’s grid, thus combining the 24/7 reliability of a grid connection with the lower costs of solar energy.
2. LIGHTING RETROFIT
At a certain point, outdated, underperforming lighting is no longer worth the time, expense and hassle of constant replacements and maintenance. When that day comes, it may be worth looking into an LED technology.
Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) have been around since the 1950’s and have long been known as an extremely efficient light source. According to the U.S. Department of Energy , “No other lighting technology offers as much potential to save energy and enhance the quality of our building environments, contributing to our nation's energy and climate change solutions.”
In UAE, buildings consume about 80 % of electrical energy regardless of the industry segment. This percentage is even higher for old and existing structures with outdated lighting systems.
“Aggressive retrofitting could provide up to 50% saving of energy consumption and is also 50 to 75% cheaper  than installing a new fixture”
Essentially, a retrofit means upgrading a buildings' existing operational and physical systems to boost energy efficiency. It includes passive measures such as shading and insulation strategies that are cheap but provide lower energy savings. Active measures include replacing Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems, which are relatively expensive but reduces energy consumption massively, especially in commercial buildings. Ideally, a combination of both strategies leads to significant reduction in energy consumption.
A residential consumer can start saving by taking a step as small as replacing incandescent or CFL bulbs with LED. A commercial user can maximize his savings by actively retrofitting his interior and exterior lights with LED fixtures and by replacing the boilers or chillers.
According to a recent study in UAE , LED lights proved to be the best energy savers in spite of the high cost for each unit. Occupancy sensors resulted in 10% energy reduction, while, daylight sensor and dimming systems resulted in 25% energy reduction.
The best example in the city is of Dubai International Airports’ Retrofitting Project, an initiative taken by Etihad ESCO and Sharaf Electronics. In this project, over 15,000 outdoor and indoor lights will be replaced by LEDs resulting in about AED5 million annual savings every year, for next seven years.
At the same time, advancements in lighting technology has also made retrofits and renovations more stylish. There are top brands providing unique and class-apart lighting systems.
Thus, not only are you saving money, you are also enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your property. So now is a great time to consider retrofitting your home or commercial property!
3. HVAC OPTIMIZATION
In Dubai, buildings in different sectors consume around 80 % of energy. This accounts for about half the utility bills. The first step to reducing your energy footprint is to install an Energy Star approved HVAC system.
HVAC energy efficiency starts with a mindset of getting the most out of using less. Human body temperature is approximately 36-37 degree Celsius, thus setting the AC temperature between 17-20 °C is not only uncomfortable but is unhealthy and is actually a waste of energy.
Installing a high-performance HVAC system thus not only helps in conserving energy, but it also improves Indoor Air Quality by increasing user’s thermal comfort.
The first step in making a building more energy efficient is understanding the areas where energy saving opportunities exist. Simple actions like upgrading your 2 star rated HVAC system to a 5 star system, adjusting your thermostat, switching off lights, putting up shading devices and timely maintenance, can go a long way in reducing your electricity.
When installed in conjunction with passive cooling and heating structures like sun controls and shading devices, HVAC can reduce annual energy costs by 20-70% over a period of 2-3 years.
Also, it is crucial to select a system size that is compatible with the required capacity otherwise you will end up paying more and that extra capacity may never be used. If you are looking to upgrade your HVAC or need to replace your system entirely, consider getting a VRF, or a Variable Refrigerant Flow energy efficient HVAC system.
Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems are advanced solutions that automatically shift refrigerant from one area of a building to another in order to efficiently transfer heat to where it is needed and away from where it is not. These systems can deliver significant energy savings.
Also, you may lose a lot of conditioned air if the building is poorly insulated. Therefore, it is imperative that you take measures to insulate the walls, windows, pipes and ducts to reduce energy losses.
Heating and Ventilation also adds on to the total energy demand. The most important way of mitigating heating needs is by replacing inefficient boilers. Good ventilation system provides fresh air circulation and protects against dampness and condensation.
Installing energy efficient HVAC system may initially result in more upfront cost, but it is an investment guaranteed to bring in tremendous benefits in the long term, both environmentally and financially.
Sources that we have used:
"LED Adoption Report," [Online]. Available: https://www.energy.gov/eere/ssl/led-adoption-report.
E. Alkhateeb, B. A. Hijleh and E. Rengasamy, "BUILDING REFURBISHMENT STRATEGIES AND THEIR IMPACT ON SAVING ENERGY IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES," Proceedings of SBEI16, Dubai, 2016.